By Larry Nwaiwu
PRESIDENT, Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Mustapha Isah, has called on the media to monitor politicians’ compliance with the electoral act as the country prepares for the 2023 general elections.
Isah made the call in Enugu during a town-hall meeting organised for journalists, Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and religious organisations in the South-East zone.
The meeting, with the theme, “Agenda Setting for Sustainable Democratic Culture,” was organised by the NGE in collaboration with the US Embassy in Nigeria.
The NGE President said that the call was necessary as some politicians could attempt to circumvent provisions of the electoral act to achieve their personal interests.
He said that the media had the capacity to sustain Nigeria’s democracy by holding political office holders to account for their deeds.
Isah said that good governance would thrive when journalists were given the freedom to function.
According to him, the media should interrogate promises by candidates in the 2023 general elections to ensure that they do not deceive the electorate..
In a remark, the spokesperson, US Embassy in Nigeria, Jeanne Clark, said that the media, CSOs and religious organisations had shared responsibilities in promoting fundamental freedom.
Ms Clark also said that the media had important roles to play toward free speech and helping to sustain resilient democracy.
She charged the media to focus on issues of transparency while holding politicians to account, adding that democracy needed not be administered as an enterprise, adding that the US Embassy was proud to support the meeting, as the contribution of the media to democracy was profound.
In his speech, a Senior Lecturer, Renaissance University, Enugu, Dr. Maxwell Ngene, said that the programme would afford the media the opportunity to build their capacity.
Ngene said that it was necessary that the media set agenda for politicians in order to have a stable democratic culture.
“Journalists must work very hard to change perceptions such that Nigerians will stop talking and acting in religious and ethnic prisms,” he said.
In his key note address, a former Minister of Information, Frank Nweke Jnr described the media as a product of democracy and stated that in view of the impossibility to isolate a communication space in the dialogical evolution of societies, a functioning deliberate democracy is the exercise
of a thriving public sphere. The modern representation of that public sphere,he says, is in a functioning, independent news media.
“We looked at how the news media ultimately performs its democratic goals in three representations: namely, as an accountability mechanism, as an agenda-setting mechanism and as a gate-keeping mechanism.”
He explained that when the news media play roles like these, they proactively take responsibility to target policy makers to engage and introduce solutions, or catalyze the public to
rise and take collective action. The understanding is that failing to act sends the society on a negative dip.
Contributing to the important discuss, a staunch member of the Guild and Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation, Awka, Chief Chuka Nnabuife advised upcoming journalists to ensure that they are moved by love and passion for the job, not because of material considerations, describing journalism as a thankless job where editors work very hard but earn little.